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The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Fiction

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,677 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
The Country of the Pointed Firs combines Jewett's classic novella and its four short sequels with nine of her best stories, including five unavailable in any other paperback edition. They illustrate the range of her literary style and exemplify her interest in the position of women in nineteenth-century America. Terry Heller's introduction examines the work within the main ...more
Paperback, 662 pages
Published April 11th 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1896)
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When I decided to read this book again now as a "buddy" read, I had a residual memory from a distant reading maybe 25 or more years ago. A memory that was positive but nebulous. Now I have a new, and, happily, very precise memory to carry forward. I love this book with its portrait of the rural towns and peoples of New England, primarily of the state of Maine and primarily of the town of Dunnet's Landing, seen through the eyes of a visitor from the city, a woman sympathetic to the people and lif ...more
This chronicle of life in a Maine coastal village around the end of the 19 century was a pleassure to read. It's a novel, but each chapter has the feel of a short story, stories of this very quaint place and the people who live there. It's inhabitants are mostly widows, husbands lost to the sea, and aging seamen, all struggling to make a daily living off the land and sea. But best of all, the author paints a visually stunning picture of the landscape and seascape of the setting. Jewett was born ...more
Diane Barnes
Mar 06, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
This is the 4th or 5 the time I've read this book, and once again I returned to a simpler time with gentle people in a small Maine village. Most of the women in these tales are widows or spinsters, making the best of their lives despite disappointments and diminished circumstances, finding happiness in small things: a nice cup of tea and a warm fire on a stormy night, an unexpected visit from a neighbor, a beautiful day, or seeing relatives at a family reunion. I read these stories at bedtime, a ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
The Country of the Pointed Firs was first published in 1896, when Sarah Orne Jewett was about 47 years old. The only thing I had previously read by Sarah Orne Jewett was “The White Heron,” which seems to be the short story that is always chosen for the anthologies. It is a fine story, but it seems to be a rather limited example of Jewett’s writing, which is otherwise so full of human interactions and details of social life in coastal Maine.

The details are the glory of this book. I learn what it
Sep 14, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
1. The Return
There was something about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of Eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it so attaching...

Like the unnamed narrator of The Country of Pointed Firs, I also felt a gentle happiness at my return to Dunnet Landing in my second reading of this book. How I love its quiet serenity. On the surface, it, like Cranford, is about a town full of dear old l
Nov 08, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: some-favorites
i feel that my love for this book indicates that i am actually a 57-year-old trapped in the body of a 27-year-old.
Mar 19, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is classically prosed dialect as spoken in a certain mid-summer place and time. It is exquisite. The locale is late nineteenth century into earliest 1900's Maine coastal town- and the web of islands that surround its rocky shores. Surroundings are detailed to form and purpose and entwined within its occupants' mood. The characterizations of these elder women, the visitor and some of the sea-faring men who visit come completely alive. Beautiful read.
Jul 21, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just rediscovered a favorite old author.

One of the antique books from the 1800's sitting on my bookshelf is a collection of Sarah's short stories, and I love every one of them.

The setting for many of these stories is coastal Maine, and so the pull of the sea and the old village way of life is very strong in them.

I'm charmed with her language from the past and the postcard view of a simpler time long gone, when Nature spoke and pies were the solution to the world's problems, when Watchers
Aug 03, 2016 Quo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett is not a book many would lift off the library shelf but I'd read a few of her short stories, including one that I used successfully in an intermediate level ESL class with a large variety of students. For that reason, I was curious to read the author's longer work and found its descriptions of Maine landscapes to be interesting but exceedingly bleak. Entering Jewitt's world was like being cast backward into a time near the start of the 20th Century, t ...more
Feb 08, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
Recommended to me by my daughter, this book is just a literary masterpiece. I will never know why I had to read Ivanhoe in high school instead of something like this. I never knew this author existed. Jewett's use of language just sets a standard few authors have ever mastered. I just loved it.
Lady Studland
Feb 23, 2016 Lady Studland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1896 (the year after my grandmother was born, this book made me think so much of my own life and family. I was continually distracted as I made comparison after comparison of life in a small rural community where all such small towns run together. It just made me think of the simpler time of my own life - back when there were noo computers, no pagers, no cellphones ringing all the time. We had one phone (and the number was always something like Oxford 2-3462) and a black and white TV ...more
Meghan C.
I completed my annual re-read of Country of the Pointed Firs more in love with it and my native New England than ever. So much so that I did something I had (for some inexplicable reason) not yet done. I continued on and read the titular "Other Stories."

There is something happening in Jewett's writing that borders on perfection. And I don't mean that hyperbolically. Her slice of small town life is not for every occasion, I'll admit it. If you're in the mood for a thriller or something wrought wi
I have no idea where this book came from, sometime in the past few years it just sort of appeared on the bookshelf in my old room at my parents...I probably picked it up at a yard sale before leaving for school one summer.

Anyway, it is regarded as something of a classic and despite my misgivings at having it be lumped with Huck Finn and the Scarlet Letter, two books I despise, I decided to give it a whirl.

It's full of engaging sentences, dead-on dialect and good folkisms; it's real slice of life
Apr 05, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th-century fiction, esp. regionalist fiction
As a teenager, Jewett was inspired to become a writer by her indignation over the sneering condescension with which summer visitors from Boston treated the country people of her beloved native Maine. "I determined to teach the world," she wrote, "[that they] were not the awkward, ignorant set those people seemed to think. I wanted the world to know their grand, simple lives; and so far as I had a mission, when I first began to write, I think that was it." Most readers of these stories will feel ...more
A nice, little known American classic. I've been meaning to read this for years, and I'm glad I did, although it wasn't quite a good as I had hoped for.

It wasn't always an easy book to read, IMO, but the character studies and sense of place were beautifully drawn by Jewett, with some real food for thought to mull over and savor.

This collection of loosely woven story vignettes will likely bore a reader craving plot and action. However, if you're in the mood to cerebrally explore a small Maine coa
Nov 12, 2015 Deyanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
I share the nostalgia and love for the people of Maine depicted through the imaginary narrator in this lovely novel. Our spokesperson comes to a small town to find inspiration and solitude. Her generous and open heart invites her into the lives of these isolated folks, and I like to think that she is forever changed.

For example, when the narrator travels to an isolated island to meet the mother of her hostess, Mrs. Todd she writes, "Lookin' pretty well for an old lady, ain't she?" said Mrs. Todd
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Sarah Orne Jewett was a woman profoundly admired by the young Willa Cather; and, in fact, Jewett told Cather (paraphrasing) 'to stop writing like Henry James, and just tell the story.' Cather was so affected by Jewett's influence that she dedicated her 1913 novel, "O' Pioneers" to Jewett. This collection of Jewett's short stories is magnificent; they are a quiet, pastoral, lovely and idyllic look at a small slice of Americana in a small Maine sea-side village at the end of the 19th century, and ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Chab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love both prose and people.
Recommended to Chab by: Mark Twain and Willa Cather
I am in good HISTORICAL company when I state that this short book is one the finest literary pieces ever written by an American. When it was published at the beginning of the 20th Century, America's greatest writers did indeed sit up and take notice. Later it seemed to be forgotten amidst the phony "he-man" fiction of the next generation.

Jewett's prose here is the densest [but not ornate] and most rewarding of almost any American prose I can think of. It is not a book to be read quickly, but it
Sep 25, 2007 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No more Maine classics, I promise! But this loosely structured novel from 1896—a collection of sketches set in a fictional coastal town—is an unsung gem and fully deserving of the label "classic."

Jewett (like Miriam Colwell, author of Contentment Cove) was a Down East lady in a Boston marriage; she dedicated her life to Annie Fields, the widow of a prominent publisher. Field and Jewett (with their two maids) spent a month summering in Martinsville, Maine, believed to be the inspiration for Dun
Published in 1896, this well known novella covers the summer stay of a fictional seacoast town in Maine. There is little plot, merely some interesting portraits of local characters and charming depictions of typical village scenes and events intended to evoke a way of life that was disappearing even then. An old sea captain entertains her with tales of his career and a shipwreck. The visitor befriends her herbalist landlady and accompanies her on forays, including a boat trip to visit her mother ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Crystal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
While there is not much that is truly remarkable about Jewett's stories, they are, for me, very comfortable. I hope to do more study of her work in the future in order to understand all the reasons that they are comfortable yet unremarkable. The most obvious is that her stories are regional and portray good stories about strong women. Recommended for those who enjoy female writing from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Update 2014 - last summer I visited Southern Maine and the house where Jew
Dec 09, 2009 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish people had more appreciation for this type of writing. I wish Jewett had written more and I wish more of what she wrote was still available.

I first read an excerpt from the principal story in my college American Lit course and it whetted my appetite for the full novella. Unfortunately, there never seemed to be any urgency about getting to it. In the college course, it was classified as "local color." I prefer to think of it as just very good writing. Jewett's portrayals of dialect and cha
Muriel Schwenck
Nov 19, 2015 Muriel Schwenck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the loveliest books I have ever read. I re-read every few years. I can't add anything new to the glowing reviews already on this site. I grew up in the country. I've never been a gossip and know nothing about the lives of my neighbors, and they know nothing about me. But I still know about the quiet satisfaction if an isolated rural life. This book is genius.
I bought a few copies of this book and gave to friends. NO ONE was interested. I gave up trying to share it. You will either love th
Sep 09, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. I had this as my summer reading on days when I ate lunch by myself. It's a book that's best read slowly. The narrator for the main story is a woman who has come to a small Maine village for the summer to do some writing. The village was home to many sailors, but that way of life is changing, as most of the older men are retired and the younger men have moved away. The way of life is slower than the city so we as readers take our time to learn about the people of the town. ...more
Bill Keefe
Jan 31, 2015 Bill Keefe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aptly labeled a story of place, Dunnet Landing, it's seas, it's hills, it's tides, it's maritime history and most lovely of all it's inhabitants and the soft, warm, understanding, insightful voice of it's part-time resident and narrator come alive to you, with you, in you.

Nothing happens of great consequence in this walk through summers in on the Maine coast but you know - you feel! - you are walking through most of life as we know it, or could know it, were we paying attention.

Towards the end o
May 05, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasure to read. If you do visual imagery to relax and go to your happy place, add reading this book with your feet up, by a sweet little pond, sipping a tall drink, add some of your favorite things here_______________.
Don't look for any real plot or story here. It reads more like a collection of short, local color, stories.
gwen g
Feb 22, 2016 gwen g rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2016
These are little linked vignettes about a woman visiting a fishing village on the Maine coast around the turn of the century. The woman is a writer, who literally finds a room of her own (in the form of a schoolhouse on top of the hill and I'm REALLY JEALOUS because seriously how amazing is that), and records her impressions of her landlady and the various characters in the town.

It's a gorgeous book; all setting, no plot at all, and it feels like you're really there. It's rambling and beautiful
Sep 11, 2014 JZ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this so many years ago, when I was 19, and all that I really remember about it is that it made me feel 'other-world-ly' and like I had walked this way before, and I was floating on a cloud of remembrance of somewhere I'd not been before, that made me so content. A wonderful feeling. I'd love to read it again, but I know that it wouldn't be the same experience, and I fear it being less than the wonder I felt, and still do, in some measure.

I hope it takes you unknown places that you recogn
Dec 19, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
Pastoral, idealized observations of Maine coastal life at the end of the 19th century. I wouldn't recommend the 4 short stories in this collection, as they were overly sentimental (A White Heron, Miss Tempy's Watchers, Martha's Lady, Aunt Cynthy Dallett) but I enjoyed Pointed Firs and the associated stories quite a bit. They are gentle, pleasant; not much happens except a tale is retold or a small discovery made. But they capture the 'ideal' of Nature and the humble man (as envisioned at the tim ...more
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Sarah Orne Jewett was an American novelist and short story writer, best known for her local color works set in or near South Berwick, Maine, on the border of New Hampshire, which in her day was a declining New England seaport.
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“It was mortifying to find how strong the habit of idle speech may become in one’s self. One need not always be saying something in this noisy world.” 20 likes
“I saw William Blackett’s escaping sail already far from land, and Captain Littlepage was sitting behind his closed window as I passed by, watching for some one who never came. I tried to speak to him, but he did not see me. There was a patient look on the old man’s face, as if the world were a great mistake and he had nobody with whom to speak his own language or find companionship.” 3 likes
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